Parables and Foundations

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One of the many interesting results of synoptic research is the discovery of parallels between rabbinic literature and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Rabbinic parallels enhance our understanding of the sayings of Jesus, and vice versa. Jesus’ parable below is more understandable when compared with its rabbinic parallels, and the rabbinic sayings are illuminated by Jesus’ parable.

This article is one of a six-part series entitled “Rabbinic Parallels.”

Revised: 15-Nov-2012

Rabbinic parallels enhance our understanding of the sayings of Jesus, and vice versa. Jesus’ parable below is more understandable when compared with its rabbinic parallels, and the rabbinic sayings are illuminated by Jesus’ parable.

Jesus was not the only ancient sage to teach with parables. Nor was he the only sage to speak of “two kinds of foundations,” the theme that good deeds are necessary along with knowledge. Many sages expressed this theme straightforwardly. חֲנִינָא בֶּן דּוֹסָא (Hanina ben Dosa), who taught around the middle of the first century A.D., said:

He who has more deeds than knowledge, his knowledge endures; but he who has more knowledge than deeds, his knowledge does not endure. (Mishnah, Avot 3:10)

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To read the next article in the Rabbinic Parallels series, click here.

Collapsed house on Carmel Road in Stirling, Ontario. Photographed by Robert Taylor from Stirling, ON, Canada. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
This article originally appeared in issue 28 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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